By Katherine Quinn, Support Connection Executive Director
Please join me for an opportunity to help many lives and change your own at the same time!
On Sunday, October 6, 2019, Support Connection will host its 25th Annual Support-A-Walk at FDR Park in Yorktown Heights, NY. It is an amazing day of love, friendship, support and community. The Support-A-Walk is like no other. It exemplifies Support Connection’s mission: To offer support to people impacted by breast or ovarian cancer.
For 25 years, walking side by side, this support has shone through. The money raised at the Walk is used to fund our free breast and ovarian cancer support services. I promise you: You will get more than you give by participating or donating to the Support-A-Walk. I know, because that’s how it’s been for me.
I was there for the very first walk on Sunday, October 1, 1995. I will never forget it. It was a beautiful fall day – sunny, with the crisp autumn air moving the colorful leaves ever so slightly. My daughter Lauren and I headed to FDR Park to participate in a walk for breast and ovarian cancer, the first of its kind in Northern Westchester.
Two people were the driving force behind the Walk: Nancy Heller, a breast cancer survivor, and Richard Adamski (who sadly passed away in 2017), who had lost his wife Myra to breast cancer. Together, with a group of volunteers, they held that first walk in Myra’s loving memory and to increase awareness about breast and ovarian cancer.
Lauren and I weren’t sure what to expect, but we knew our purpose. We were walking to show support for my dear friend Isabel who was dealing with breast cancer. As we pulled into the parking lot, a huge balloon arch and several volunteers greeted us. After the 3 mile walk, everyone gathered to listen to the speakers for the day. Listening to those speakers, Andrea and Nancy, made a permanent imprint on my heart.
Andrea was a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-twenties. She was honest and open about how difficult the diagnosis was, but her message was clear. She was filled with HOPE, and with gratitude for the support of her fiancé, family and friends who stood beside her in her journey.
Nancy shared her story about being diagnosed when her daughter was in pre-school. Now, more than a decade later, she was doing well and wanted to make a difference and help others who were facing the challenges that she had faced.
After sharing her story, Nancy issued an invitation to the walkers that I couldn’t refuse. She invited us to join her in planning another walk, and to find a way to bring support to residents of Northern Westchester and surrounding communities who were impacted by breast and ovarian cancer. Most importantly, Nancy and Rich wanted this support to be provided by cancer survivors.
The rest is what I refer to as the “Support Connection magic.” David Sacarny, the first donor to the Walk, generously provided office space and telephones so a group of about 20 of us could gather, brainstorm, and work together. After months of planning, and with the help of mentors from SHARE, the organization Nancy and Rich dreamed of became a reality.
On September 10, 1996, the doors to Support Connection opened. I was on the other side of that door, planning to help for the next six months. The moment I took the first phone call, I knew how needed our services were. So, when Nancy asked me to serve as Executive Director, I couldn’t say no. More than 20 years later, I remain passionate about our mission.
Some things have changed, but so much remains the same. Our Walk is now attended by thousands of people and our services span nationwide. At the same time, we remain committed to offering support and hope to women and families living with the challenges that accompany breast and ovarian cancer diagnosis, treatment and the aftermath. We make it clear that we are here for them, and they don’t need to be alone.
I am so grateful that I went to that first Walk. When I go to the Walk today, I am joined by many of my family members and friends. My daughter Lauren is among them, joined now by her husband and their children. They, too, are hooked on the Walk.
Every day, I work in loving memory of Isabel. She will always be my inspiration. I often think that if I hadn’t gone to the Walk, I would have missed the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, and also to change my own life for the better.
Share your Walk stories with us! firstname.lastname@example.org